washingtonpost.com > Business > Local Business
Correction to This Article
A June 12 Washington Business article misstated the number of contractor proposals expected for NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Program IV. NASA said it expects 70 to 100 proposals.
Local Contract

NASA Tests Out an Alternative for Federal Agencies Seeking IT Work

By Roseanne Gerin
Special to the Washington Post
Monday, June 12, 2006

A new government-wide contracting vehicle sponsored by NASA could become the first choice of federal agencies, surpassing General Services Administration schedules, according to the space agency and companies planning to bid for a place in the new program.

NASA last month issued a request for proposals for its Scientific and Engineering Workstation Program IV, a seven-year, $6.5 billion contract for information technology products. Companies have until June 22 to submit bids on what's known as SEWP IV. Expectations of high interest in the new contract are based on wide use of NASA's current version, SEWP III.

"Increasingly, it is a vehicle that agencies consider as an alternative to buying through GSA schedule contracts, and we just think that it's a good idea to have one or two alternatives," said Stephen Charles, co-founder and executive vice president of ImmixGroup Inc. The McLean company, which plans to bid on the new contract, acts as a sales agent that helps other companies sell products.

Buying IT goods and services via government-wide contracts has exploded in popularity with federal agencies. About 2,300 federal locations place more than 1,100 orders each month under the current NASA contract, according to ImmixGroup.

NASA expects to be inundated with bids for the new IT contract. With multiple awards to be made, NASA could get as many as 2,700 proposals, said Joanne Woytek, NASA's program manager for the contract.

The contract has specific features to whet contractors' appetites. Its flexibility, high level of customer service, attractive fee structure and opportunities for small businesses add to its attractions, industry executives said.

"It's easy for clients to use, it's easy for us as a vendor to set up and manage, and it's very simple and straightforward for us to get new products onto the schedule so that we can have faster deployments and developments with our clients," said Jeff Babcock, senior director of the federal division at Kronos Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass., which is on the current NASA contract.

One more incentive for contractors: NASA charges contractors a 0.65 percent fee to sell products to agencies through its program, compared with GSA's fee of 0.75 percent, and has a $10,000 cap on administrative fees on product orders, Woytek said.

NASA is likely to issue awards under the new contract in late September or early October, Woytek said.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer for Washington Technology. More on this and other technology contracts can be found athttp://washingtontechnology.com.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company